What Does CSSM Stand For? Certified Surgical Services Manager

Who should apply? CSSM is for professionals who work in the surgical services department in a managerial role. That is to say, it is for those people who oversee personnel, and/or a budget, business unit and/or service line. Professionals with the following titles are all eligible to take the exam: director, assistant director, manager, assistant manager, supervisor, coordinator, team leader, service line leader, charge nurse. This is not an inclusive list.

How Do I Earn the CSSM Credential?

  1. Meet the eligibility requirements
  2. Complete the application and pay the fee
  3. Pass the CSSM exam

What are the CSSM Eligibility Requirements? To be eligible to apply for the CSSM exam, candidates must meet the following requirements at the time of application. Candidates do NOT need to be CNOR certified.

 Minimum Academic Degree Requirement Employment
Perioperative Management Coursework Requirement
CNOR Certified RN BA/BS Minimum of 2 years and 2,400 hours of surgical services managerial experience 30 contact hours of domain specific content
Non-CNOR Certified RN BA/BS Minimum of 4 years and 4,800 hours of surgical services managerial experience 50 contact hours of domain specific content

RN License: Hold a current, unrestricted RN license.

Academic Degree: Hold a Bachelor’s degree either in Arts or Science (transcript will be required if audited).

Employment: Currently employed (either full-time or part-time) and have a minimum of two or four years’ experience in a surgical services management role depending on CNOR certification status. Work experience in a non-paid, volunteer capacity is acceptable. 

Perioperative Management Coursework: Candidates must have completed a minimum of 30 or 50 continuing education contact hours depending on CNOR certification status in the two years prior to application. Coursework must be in one or more of the subject areas/domains covered on the CSSM exam:

  1. Strategic Management
  2. Operational Management
  3. Financial Management
  4. Leadership
  5. Professionalism
  6. Communication & Relationship Management
  7. Human Resource Management

How Much Does the CSSM Exam Cost?

 CSSM Discounted Fees
CNOR Certified $275
Non-CNOR Certified $350

When can I take the CSSM Exam?

You select the month in which you want to take the CSSM exam. Once your application has been approved, you will be able to schedule a date, time, and location that are convenient for you. The CSSM exam is offered Monday through Saturday except major holidays. You may schedule your testing date any time during the three months after the month of your application. For instance, if you apply in January, then you may test any time during February, March or April.

How Many Questions are on the CSSM Exam and What Does It Cover?

There are 150 questions on the CSSM exam which covers the following subject areas:

Subject Area % of Questions # of Questions 
Strategic Management 14  21
Operational Management 22  33
Financial Management 16  24
Leadership 14  21
Professionalism 6  9
Communication & Relationship Management 12 18 
Human Resource Management 16  24

Where Do I Take the CSSM Exam? Candidates will take the CSSM exam at a Prometric testing center. Prometric is a professional testing service agency with over 300 locations nationwide. Once your CSSM application is processed and approved, CCI will email you instructions on how to schedule your testing appointment. You will select a time, date and location that are convenient for you.

What Format is the CSSM Exam? The CSSM exam is a knowledge-based exam which assesses the knowledge (what a surgical services manager should know) and tasks (what a surgical services manager nurse should know how to do) with a minimum of two years of managerial experience. It is a multiple choice question exam which candidates take on a computer. Each question has four answer options with only one correct answer.

How Long is the CSSM Credential Valid? The CSSM credential is valid for 3 years.  Your credential will expire on December 31st of the fourth year.

What are the Test Preparation Resources for the CSSM Exam? Many resources are available for managers to prepare for the CSSM exam.

Required Reference:
AORN's Guidelines for Perioperative Practice, 2015 edition.

Highly Recommended:
Alexander’s Care of the Patient in Surgery, Jane Rothrock, 15th edition, Mosby, Elsevier, 2015. Phillip, N. (Ed.). (2017). Berry and Kohn’s Operating Room Technique (13 ed.). St. Louis, MO: Elsevier.
Economics and Financial Management for Nurses and Nurse Leaders, Susan J. Penner, 2nd edition, Springer Publishing Company, 2013.
Financial Management for Nurse Managers and Executives, Steven A. Finkler, Christine T. Kovner, Cheryl B. Jones, 3rd edition, 2007.
Operating Room Leadership and Management, Alan Kay, Charles Fox and Richard Urman, Cambridge University Press, 2012.